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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Early Christian Meath and Louth

And today I visited Monasterboice, Mellifont Abbey and The Hill of Slane.  They are all on the same loop.  I've found myself building a mental picture of the landscape of old Ireland and I've lots of material to take from to write.  As I saw in a friend's book about screen writing "The hardest thing about being a writer is knowing what to write." I hope some day I can come up with a plot for a novel, maybe I need to do a workshop or read some books, or actually apply myself to the task.  For now, back to poetry

To revisit the three sites in chronological order, ok..  What I found interesting about The Hill of Slane is that St. Patrick converted King Laoghaire's druid to Christianity and he became the first Bishop of Slane.  Patrick must have been a very charismatic man and this is what Christianity did, it incorporated paganism into itself. 

Monasterboice is striking for its three high crosses and round tower.  These round towers were built so that people could take refuge in them from the Norsemen.  The entrance to the tower was high off the ground with a retractable ladder.

Mellifont functioned well from c.1160 until the c.1560 when Henry VIII had it dissolved.  It was a Cistercian Abbey and its monks were trained in Clairvaux in France.  Saint Malachy introduced the order to Ireland.  There seems to be a lot of work going on in Mellifont at the moment.  They must be preserving and restoring the ruins.  

Just outside Navan on the Slane road there is another round tower at Donaghmore and St. Patrick is said to have founded a monastery here.  Did you know that?  I didn't but I've always found it a curious site but never thought to question its origin.


  1. Very interesting post, must get out to Mellifont some time.

  2. And I must go back to Monasterboice soon. Haven't been there for years. My favourite high cross.